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Buying guide: How to get, or avoid, Windows 8
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - This week, Microsoft Corp. will release a new version of its Windows operating system, one designed to make desktop and laptop computers work more like tablets. It represents the software company’s effort to address the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers, namely the iPad.
The new software is a radical departure from previous versions of Windows. The familiar start menu on the lower left corner is gone, and people will have to swipe the edges of the screen to access various settings. There will be a new screen filled with a colorful array of tiles, each leading to a different application, task or collection of files. Windows 8 is designed especially for touch screens, though it will work with the mouse and keyboard shortcuts, too.
There will be several versions of Windows 8:
_ Windows 8.
Like its predecessors, Windows 8 will run on computers with processing chips made by Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc. There’s a basic version designed for consumers and a Pro version for more tech-savvy users and businesses. The Pro version has such features as encryption and group account management. Large companies with volume-licensing deals with Microsoft will want Windows 8 Enterprise, which has additional tools for information-technology staff to manage machines.
For the first time, there will also be a version running on lower-energy chips common in phones and tablets. That version will run on tablets and some devices that marry tablet and PC features. While tablets with Windows 8 can run standard Windows programs, the RT devices will be restricted to applications specifically designed for the system. Borrowing from Apple’s playbook, Microsoft is allowing RT to get applications only from its online store, and apps must meet content and other guidelines.
_ Windows Phone 8.
While Windows 8 and RT will be out Friday, the phone version won’t be available until an unspecified date this fall. Microsoft has an event on it Monday and may announce more details then. Nokia Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. already have announced plans for new Windows phones.
Here’s how you can get _ or avoid getting _ Windows 8:
_ Buy a new PC:
Desktop, laptop and tablet computers with Windows 8 already installed will go on sale Friday. Several PC manufacturers including Samsung, Lenovo Group Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. already have announced details about their new machines, while retailers such as Best Buy Co. have trained staff to explain and demonstrate the new system. Microsoft will also have its Surface tablet with Windows RT out, with a Windows 8 version coming later.
_ Upgrade your PC:
Those who have bought a Windows 7 PC (other than the Starter Edition) since June 2 will be able to buy Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. The offer applies to Windows 7 PCs sold until Jan. 31, and the upgrade must be claimed by Feb. 28.
Those who prefer buying a DVD to upgrade will have to pay $69.99.
Before buying the upgrade, check to make sure your machine is strong enough to run Windows 8. Microsoft lists the system requirements here: http://windowsupgradeoffer.com/en-US/Home/ProgramInfo.
Not sure if you have what it takes? Microsoft has an upgrade tool that will stop you if you try to buy Windows 8 without the requirements. The tool will also warn you of software that might need updates to work on Windows 8. Go to http://Windows.com starting Friday to get started.
If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, the tool will let you keep settings, personal files and applications. You can migrate settings and files from Vista and files only from XP. You’ll also have the option to start fresh and bring nothing to Windows 8.
_ Keep older Windows:
After Windows 7 came out in October 2009, for instance, retailers were still allowed to sell boxed versions of the predecessor, Vista, until October 2010. PC makers were able to sell Vista machines until October 2011.
By Matt Kibbe
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